Teacher in battle to end pupils' feuds

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The Independent Online
Feuds between gangs of Bangladeshi youths involved in a series of territorial knife-fights have sparked a campaign by a London head teacher for a full investigation.

Home Office and Education ministers are to be approached for help by Peter Brooke, former Conservative Party chairman and South Westminster MP, who met the head of one of his local schools to talk about the issue last Friday.

Rivalries between groups of Bangladeshi youths from different areas of London have spilled over into violence, according to Michael Marland, the head of North Westminster Community School.

He says that although only a small number of boys are involved, the problem is growing. The boys' low attainment at school and a lack of facilities for them has created the potential for further trouble, he believes.

Fights have broken out between teenagers from the Brick Lane area, in east London, and Drummond Street, Lisson Green and Harrow Road, in north London. Knives and other weapons have been used.

Although Mr Marland says discipline is good at his school, where a quarter of the pupils are Bangladeshi, he says there is substantial anecdotal problem of a small but growing crime problem among boys from the community.

"We have very good behaviour in school but we also want to make sure that the streets of London are safe. The Bangladeshi community have huge strength ... and they are very caring parents, but they need help because of their position in London society," he said.

Mr Marland has raised funding from the Gulbenkian Foundation to employ two part-time Bangladeshi youth workers to interview boys about their attitudes and concerns.

The research is being administered through the Marylebone Bangladeshi Association. Its project co-ordinator, Abdul-Aziz Toki, said: "Teenage boys ... can't always judge what is good and what is wrong."